In an event that took place at Sant Pau, nearly 30 international institutions located in Barcelona manifest their support for the “Barcelona International Policy Action Plan”, or “BIP AP”, a sector-led initiative aiming to promote the city as headquarters of multilateral organisations, foundations, networks and other institutions active in the field of sustainable development and international cooperation. The City Hall has also expressed its support for the project.
One of the plan’s main advocates, Mark Freeman, is founder and director of IFIT (Institute for Integrated Transitions), a think tank with headquarters in Barcelona that provides analysis and support to strengthen peace and democracy in countries attempting to break cycles of conflict or repression. Freeman sees great potential for the establishment of new international programme offices in Barcelona, since it is an “innovative, dynamic, safe and welcoming city, with a wide range of local organisations working on social issues”. Moreover, in his view, the city also “has a great deal of potential to become a city of reference for the common good at the global level”.
A recent example of the project is the negotiation that has led to the decision to establish the headquarters of the Higher Education Alliance for Refugees (HEAR) in Barcelona.
This programme, underway since last September, focuses on facilitating access to higher education for refugees who have been forced to abandon their native countries without completing their degrees. It is estimated that nearly half a million Syrian refugees who have fled their homeland are at an age typically associated with university studies. The goal of HEAR is to avoid them from becoming a “lost generation” with regard to higher education.
A team of five experts are currently working for HEAR in order to plan and carry out projects in Europe, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan (where the majority of the refugees are concentrated). Robert Templer, director of the School of Public Policy at Central European University in Budapest and driving force behind the project, ensures that he has chosen Barcelona because it is an open city, with a very attractive ecosystem and the capacity to attract international talent.